Judging by the nature of questions on here, I feel that duolingo doesn't do a very good job of teaching grammar. Just as a disclaimer, I'm not personally learning but rather refreshing German so I don't know from the learner's perspective. However, it seems that the only indication of what grammar you're learning is in the title of the lessons. There isn't much explanation. I think that this is something that might be resolved by users. It'd be nice if users could work together to develop grammar classes outside of the basic learning track.

I've been using codeacademy to learn programming, and they encourage users to develop content ... we could do that here and collaborate to build courses, for example, something on the accusative, how to use it, when to use it, practice tests, etc.

Just a thought.

August 17, 2012


I don't think it's a good idea to let learners create content. This has to be done by native speakers or else you end up with a giant mess.

If you have enough people working on it, it works out. I wouldn't necessarily trust the average American to write a tutorial on English. And in some cases, people who have experienced learning the language understand how it's constructed better than people who grew up with it. I can explain German grammar as a near-fluent (formerly quite good, need a refresher) than I can explain English. I don't know much about how English works, because I just speak it. When I try to put it in terms to explain it, I think back to my German lessons and try to find equivalents. I think it could work with enough people involved.

As a former teacher I have the experience of being a trained teacher of German and also of being an untrained teacher of Dutch (native language) to foreign children who appeared in our school one day. I remember how lengthy my explanations were, because I had to think them up the moment the children wanted an explanation. Just being a native speaker does not automatically qualify one as a good teacher of that language. With experience it got allright, but that took some time. As a German teacher I learned, that complete explanations and systems hardly work for the beginner. Most grammars try to be complete and thus become incomprehensible to the novice.

I think you have a good idea, eka9. The grammar lessons would be an opportunity for the creators to intensively study certain grammar lessons, and their co-created lessons would do no harm, especially if they were vetted by the community. How do we start?

Duolingo does offer a textbook like explanation below the lessons when you start them, and the questions help with answering grammar questions. I feel like video lectures would be more helpful though.

@siebolt: When I said native speakers, what I had in mind were professional language educators who are native speakers. Ideally, learners' grammars are created by a group of native speakers and non-native speakers, both with a background in professional language education. Anyway, this sort of thing should not be left to amateurs. In contrast to translating the web, the scope of providing grammar instructions is quite limited. So there's absolutely no need for crowdsourcing. Why leave this task to amateurs when you can get top-notch instructions from experienced professionals?

@ christian. I agree with you that a good grammar depends on professionals. Amateurs can give good explanations on isolated subjects as we can see every day on DuoLingo, but a consistent grammar is quite something else. Added later: I decided to look into the German grammar. It partly proves your point. 1 outright error (mentioned 2 times) and a normal and correct ommission, but which should have been done differently.

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